Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Tokyo: Invisible touch

Innovation takes center stage in womenswear collections

by Misha Janette

Special To The Japan Times

Clothing that morphs into a person’s body shape at the flick of a wrist sounds like something straight out of a science-fiction film, but such innovations were on display at the wonderful Anrealage show at the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Tokyo last week. Designer Kunihiko Morinaga has developed an in-seam system that can change the shape and size of his designs with the simple turn of a knob. In lay terms, think of drawstrings with invisible ropes. Morinaga’s show featured models stepping out in oversized coats, dresses and pants that magically shrunk before the audience’s eyes. Anrealage showcases so many innovations such as this that you’d think they’d long be global superstars by now. Instead, you’ll have to trek to a small shop on the outskirts of Harajuku to get your hands on any of their items.

If you prefer your clothing to stay in one shape, Facetasm has you covered. It is certainly one of the best brands on the fashion circuit today, with an uncanny ability to layer items in ways that make outfits look unconventional enough to be considered “runway fashion.” This season we saw pretty wood-block flora prints paired with giant necklaces of french fries and hamburgers for a kitschy take on the metropolitan jungle.

Speaking of kitsch, that’s Dresscamp‘s middle name. The hero of their collection was a yellow smiley face sporting drips of blood from both nostrils. It’s a signature of Japanese artist Madsaky and, with his blessing, it was displayed on everything from men’s suits to cocktail dresses. A turn by supermodel Ai Tominaga on the runway also brought the camera shutters out in full force.

A brand that played with patterns this year was Mintdesigns, utilizing colorful paint marble and splatter to great effect. What appeared to be camouflage digital print on the runway was actually intricately woven jacquard, while vinyl rain coats turned out to be coated sweatshirt material. “Quirky” is a word often associated with this brand, but this time it was exceptionally smart and sophisticated.

Quiz: What’s long, lean and topped with pipe cleaners? That, obviously, would be models in the Matohu show, showing the newest incarnations of their signature long Japanese robes in a rainbow of colors. Starting with the dull hues of chrome and dirt, it escalated to finish on decidedly bubbly tones, like a garden in bloom. The message hit home with headpieces fashioned into abstract flowers and insects from pipe cleaners.

Somarta also took inspiration from traditional Japanese dress, with kimonolike obi belts remastered into modern ensembles. Designer Tamae Hirokawa added spots of naturelike bustles of colored feather arrangements as well as Art Deco patterns that reference the allure of Japonisme as high art.

Alice Auaa is a somewhat mysterious brand shrouded under the veil of Victorian gothicism, dark storytelling and a fanatic following around the world. Its 2014 spring/summer collection was based around the tale of a girl who drowned in a lake, and featured white pieces in cascading layers with touches of blue. Topped off with giant fish heads and what appeared to be animal cartilage tuxedo ruffles, it’s not for the faint of heart.

One designer that can’t be labeled so easily is Nozomi Ishiguro, who presented both his couture and diffusion line on the same runway at the same time. The former saw heart bustiers and a number of avant-garde dresses made from fabric printed with a giant fading American flag. The latter was a ransom note collage of materials, colors and nostalgic prints that was wackadoo enough to give Tokyo the fringe cred it rightly deserves.


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